Greed’s influence on policy

Someone who read Black Collar left a review asking why Congress tends to ignore the will of the people in favor of policies that enrich the upper class. Is it “simple greed” the reviewer pondered. Great question. Here’s my response:

First, thank you to everyone who read Black Collar. These positive reviews are the best motivation, and I appreciate them so much. I’ve receive a lot of reviews lately, so if I don’t answer your question on here, feel free to email me directly. But I’m going to answer this one.

Regarding whether policy choices are motivated by greed, I think that’s a question with a complex answer. Research by Martin Gilens tells us that 70% of Americans have zero influence on public policy. They are completely disenfranchised from the political system–not because they don’t vote, but because money in a much greater indicator of policy influence. So, part one of the problem is that many Americans just don’t have a voice in Washington, D.C., because they can’t afford one. How we spend our money is more important than the box we check on the ballot, although I like to think that matters, too.

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BLACK COLLAR: The story behind the story

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably already experienced Black Collar. A lot has happened since I penned those first pages back in March of 2011. This is the story of how Black Collar came to be.

Black Collar started with an idea: breathe life into net neutrality with a tale of death and vengeance.

Structurally, Black Collar’s format was inspired by George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series (better known as Game of Thrones), although I halved the length and number of title characters for mainstream fiction. My hat tip to GRRM is Black Collar’s vile Martin Lancaster.

The day after finishing the manuscript for Black Collar, I began law school at the University of Missouri. After three arduous semesters, I withdrew to see Black Collar published.

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True ‘net neutrality’ needed for a level playing field

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“Net neutrality” is the principle that all Internet data should be treated equally. For the past 25 years, the Internet has functioned as an open network, where all users could browse to all corners of the Web. The other side of the coin is a closed network, such as cable television, where content providers and end users both pay for increased access.

It’s the Internet’s open architecture that allows websites to compete on a level playing field. Sure, Google, Facebook and Amazon are giants walking among the peasants. Yet, despite their size, they’re not crushing competitors by forcing them out of the market. Facebook is still a single Web address, equally accessible as any startup, and if users begin flocking to alternate sites, major players often pay big money to acquire their competition rather than risk becoming the next MySpace.

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10 Time-Saving Tech Tips for Writers

  1. Make Google Chrome the default web browser on your computer and phone.

    The cool kids have already switched to Google Chrome, with good reason. As of March 2013, 51.7% of web users browse with Chrome, and it’s still gaining in popularity. Usage statistics are extremely important because web designers build sites to function correctly on the most common browsers. FireFox (28.5% of users) and Internet Explorer (13%) are trending down, while Safari (4.1%) and Opera (1.8%) are holding steady at the bottom.

    Chrome has several noteworthy features. Here are a few of my favorites: (1) Chrome synchronizes the bookmarks I save on my PC to my Google account, and then syncs from the cloud to the Chrome app on my iPhone, and vice versa. (2) Chrome’s homepage displays my favorite apps so I can access them quickly–a simple, yet effective time-saving feature. (3) Chrome’s bookmarks bar is simple and brilliant. (4) Chrome’s built-in “inspect element” feature lets me view the webpage code for specific images and text, which helps me learn HTML and CSS.

  2. Run blog posts through Facebook Debugger before sharing them.

    Ever have trouble sharing a blog post on Facebook? Try entering the web address of the blog post into Facebook Debugger, which clears any previous cache of the webpage and indexes the current page into Facebook’s shareable cache, or tells you why the post isn’t tagged correctly.

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An Adventure in Backups

Done! And two hours before deadline, you think with exhausted relief as you close your laptop. After three months of hard work, you just completed the revisions requested by your editor at New York’s latest imprint: Guillotine. You gaze out the window of your favorite Brooklyn coffee shop and wonder if the morning dew has lifted from the grass in Central Park. Eleven o’clock is still two hours away. Maybe I should deliver my manuscript in person. Then I’ll go lie down in the park, eyes turned toward the sky as the blades of grass tickle my soul, welcoming me back to the real world.

Ugh! Better not, you remember. Your agent, a smarmy British fellow named Dudley Faber, didn’t get you the best contract terms. I should have dumped him when I found out his real name is Vincent, and he’s from from New Jersey. The contract provision specifying “complete removal of one digit from the tardy author’s hand or foot” per every hour of lateness was particularly troubling. I’ll finish my drink and send it by email, you decide.

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